In Vermont, it's an uncontested fact that fake maple syrup (A.K.A. pancake syrup) is a travesty... But say there's maple syrup in something, and then there's not a drop to be found?--UH-OH: BIG TROUBLE.
The Vermont Maple Sugar Makers Association (VMSMA) and maple industry groups from Michigan to Vermont recently sent a letter to the Food and Drug Administration "protesting foods labeled as 'maple' or 'maple-flavored' that don't actually contain the real thing," Vermont Public Radio reported in their story on February 17, 2016.
Pure maple syrup sells for a "premium price" on the open market in Vermont, with the average retail price for a gallon of the sweet stuff coming in around $49, according to AP.
With pure maple syrup's significantly higher price tag, commanding flavor, and health benefits compared to other sweeteners, it's no surprise that some of the biggest companies in the world have deceived their customers into thinking their products contain pure maple syrup, when in fact they do not contain a single drop.
My main beef is put syrup in it if you're going to call it syrup. My secondary beef is if you're going to call it a maple thing, put enough maple in it that it's a maple product and that it's not a corn syrup product that has some minuscule amount of syrup in it." - Roger Brown, chairman of the Maple Industry Committee of the Vermont Maple Sugar Makers Association [SOURCE: AP]
Pure Maple Syrup's Got the Goods
Pure maple syrup contains many more antioxidants and beneficial nutrients like manganese, riboflavin, zinc, and magnesium compared with other commonly used sweeteners such as sugar, corn syrup, and even honey.
As consumers increasingly seek out healthier, all-natural food alternatives, mega corporations hope to further blur the line of what is constituted as real and what isn't.
If a corporation can spend a fraction of its costs producing a product by using corn syrup instead of real maple syrup, and still tell you, legally, it's "maple," consumers think they're getting the real deal, when instead they have been duped.
The action taken by the VMSMA sends a strong signal to the FDA that pure maple syrup producers around the country are not willing to let the integrity of maple's name be diminished by big-name imposters.
Pure maple syrup is a food product--sure--but it's also much, much more than that. Maple sugaring is a culture, tradition, and livelihood that needs to be protected.
So next time you're drenching a stack of pancakes in "maple syrup," or picking up a "maple-flavored" granola bar, be a skeptic and ensure you're getting the real deal--pure maple syrup, straight from the trees to your table.
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